It has been a long day. Two phone meetings, two in-person meetings, and a session of fundraising class. This season of my life is sending letters, emails, messages, texts, meeting with people, spreading the word about what we do in Zambia, and asking people to partner with me by praying and giving financially. It is a huge task! My monthly budget is $2000 per month (including everything like insurance and social security and pay check) in order for me to be able to work as a relational mentor to these students in our gap year program. And I have over 45 people giving to make that happen.
I sit over a cup of strawberry kiwi tea with a wonderful lady from my mom’s small group from church. And I just shake my head. What has been running through my head all day comes out: “I don’t deserve this. I definitely believe in the work I do in Zambia and I truly think it is filling a huge need. But every time someone offers to commit to take time out of their busy lives to pray for me or when they commit to giving money every month out of their hard-earned paycheck, I just can’t believe it.”
She smiles and says, “Of course you don’t deserve it. None of us do.”
I stopped to sip my tea.
Okay let that sink in. We are not able to do what we do–working in Africa or not–because we deserve it. All of us have been given gifts. (Start with the gift of life and just continue on from there.) We are creatures that mess up and hurt each other but we still get showered with gifts from some unfathomable Love. Honestly it defies reason.
And I know I am not perfect. Yet through the generosity of other people, God is giving me all that I need to be able to live and work in Zambia.
I don’t deserve it and neither do you. We don’t deserve any of this crazy amazing life God gives us. I just get a more tangible bottom line of knowing exactly what those gifts are that I am given. Two thousand dollars per month, lots of prayer, the opportunity to influence Zambian teenagers, and some amazing partnerships to be exact.
“You have taught us a lot, you know,” one of my students told me while I made both of us tea.
“Oh really?” I responded.
“Yeah. Like you built your own couch!”
It was true. When I moved in, the couches were old and was convinced a U couch would be perfect, so I asked around and finagled a way to get free wooden pallets. I bought a bucket of varnish, mattresses, and material for cushions and sanded away for months until I had a couch that perfectly fit my living room. “We were all watching you every day sitting on your porch sanding and measuring,” he continued. As I remembered the students popping their heads out of the dining hall to watch me like l was insane.
“We kind of thought you were crazy.” I laughed and nodded. “But then we realized that if you want something to get done, you find a way. That taught us about facing challenges in life.”
Flattered and a little shocked, I reflected that my job is so unique because I’m never “off.” Even the little things I do affect my students and can teach them something. Even something as mundane as building a couch.
It is your support that allows me to encourage and mentor students like these. Would you prayerfully consider supporting my mission work in Zambia?
I looked around the playing field with the hundred or so kids running around, screaming, and braiding each other’s hair. I took a deep breath. This was our second kids’ camp and I now knew that while kids’ camp was Disneyland for the children, it was no vacation for the leaders. Suddenly a small body collided into my legs from behind and little arms wrapped around my thighs. “April!” I turned around. It was Addy.
Addy was one of my favorites. I know you aren’t supposed to have favorites, but let’s be honest, people, we all have them. At 9 years old, she is small for her age but she has a personality to make up for her size.
“I am in your small group this week!” she beamed up at me with a snaggle tooth grin.
“Yes, you are,” I responded. “But, girlie, what happened to your tooth?”
Her face fell a smidge. “I fell and it broke in half.”
“Ouch that sounds like it hurt. But I am so glad you are here this week!” She nodded, gave me one more hug, and ran off into the sea of kids.
We had an awesome time that week. Art projects, balloon fights, and lots and lots of crazy praise songs with crazier motions. We culminated our week by meeting in our small groups.
“What was your favorite part of this week,” I asked my group of eight. As we went around the group, the kids saidthe water balloon fight or the monkey dance. But when we got to Addy she paused.
“I broke my tooth and everyone at school has been teasing me. So I almost did not come but my mom said I should still come. I was scared the first day. But no one made fun of me and I had a really good time.”
I had had no idea that this outgoing little girl had felt so self-conscious. But without even trying, we had lived out the unconditional love of God. We loved her as she was.